LONDON, ON - After an almost four-week break in the Castrol Super Series schedule, the drivers and teams will be returning to action this weekend (Sept. 28-30) at Delaware Speedway for the conclusion of the 12 round, 2001 racing season. Starting...
LONDON, ON - After an almost four-week break in the Castrol Super Series schedule, the drivers and teams will be returning to action this weekend (Sept. 28-30) at Delaware Speedway for the conclusion of the 12 round, 2001 racing season. Starting with pole qualifying and a pair of 100 lap sprint races on Friday night, and wrapping up with 'The Great Canadian 300' on Sunday afternoon, the three days of racing will determine this year's Castrol Cup winner.
Heading into the final Castrol Super Series race of the summer, Home Hardware Chevy driver Don Thomson has a solid, although not insurmountable 66-point lead in the standings. With Friday's sprint races awarding as many points as Sunday's main event, there are, in effect, two races remaining for championship challengers Kerry Micks and Al Turner to take a shot at snatching the big prize from Thomson's grasp.
Summing up his campaign to this point, Thomson has enjoyed the ride. "The season's gone well, which was surprising considering the start of the year when we ran into some troubles." During the Delaware season opener, Thomson circled the half-mile track several times with the jackstand bouncing along the right side of his car. It was comical sight for everyone in attendance. Everyone, that is, who didn't happen to be wearing a Home Hardware team uniform.
"It was looking pretty scary there for a while," recalls Thomson. "After the third race, my best finish was fifth. We rebounded and strung together a bunch of top threes; that helped us a lot."
From there, Thomson displayed the consistency that has been his trademark in recent seasons. His ability to salvage top five finishes in the face of adversity has made all the difference. The fact that he has just a single victory - when he could easily have four or five - doesn't faze him entering the 'Great Canadian Race Weekend' at Delaware.
"We're looking at the big picture," continued Thomson. "The missed wins aren't so hard to take considering the points situation. I've had years when we won four races in a year and not won the National championship, finishing second a couple of times. This year, we just have one win, but we're in good shape for the title. I want it so bad it hurts. If I only walk out of this season with the one race win and the Castrol Cup, hey, I don't have a problem with that. Now, I feel like we're on track. We have a goal of winning this championship."
If there are any other drivers capable of winning the Great Canadian 300, they would be Micks, Turner, two-time and defending Castrol Cup winner Peter Gibbons, and Dave Whitlock. Micks guided his Ford Taurus to victory lane in this year's spring race at Delaware, while Turner won both Delaware races, in his Blue Streak Intrepid, in 2000. Turner has backed up that success with two more wins in 2001, the most recent coming in the Vancouver Indy at the start of September.
Considering his main rivals for the championship, Thomson said, "Both Al Turner and Kerry Micks have been in it all along. They're both really tough runners. I mean, you're waiting to get a breakout lead and it just doesn't happen in this series because there are so many tough competitors out there."
Entering the final weekend of the season, Micks knows he has his work cut out for him. "We're over 60 points behind Donnie. That's pretty hard to catch up. In '93, I was 40 points behind Steve Robblee, I remember, and we were able to catch him and beat him in that last race. But it is hard to do. I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's going to be hard."
Turner has a similar outlook on things. He's going to approach the race on his own terms. "I can't afford to race Donnie or Kerry or anybody. I'm just racing myself and the racetrack. Where I end up is where the cards fall. We can't afford to change anything. We're still gearing the car the same and preparing it the same way we have been all year long. We're just going to keep doing what we're doing. Where we end up at the end of the year is what it is. Donnie's had a tremendous year. Something pretty serious is going to have to happen [to Thomson] for me to catch him."
Considering his chances at winning at the track where he tasted victory twice in 2000, Turner wants to make amends for the mistake he made at the half-mile oval, back in May.
"We were good there in the spring and had a shot at winning until we hurt ourselves in the wall. I'm looking to do well there, but everyone's thinking the same thing. [Dave] Whitlock is going very well, as is Donnie [Thomson] and Peter [Gibbons] is always a threat there. It's going to be a tough weekend." <pre> 'The Great Canadian Race Weekend' Schedule:
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2001 5:00 p.m. Spectator gates open 6:00 - 6:45 Castrol Super Series time trials 7:40 Introductions 8:00 100 lap Sprint race #1 9:00 100 lap Sprint race #2
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2001 11:30 a.m. Spectator gates open 2:00 p.m. Racing program begins: Pepsi Street Stocks, Open Wheel Modifieds, Midas Trucks, Castrol Super Series Final Qualifiers' race
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2001 11:00 a.m. Spectator gates open 11:15 - 12:15 Driver autograph session 12:35 p.m. Parade lap 12:50 CASCAR Junior demonstration race 1:00 On track activities 1:45 V.I.P. Introductions, followed by driver introductions 2:15 The Great Canadian 300
CASTROL SUPER SERIES POINT STANDINGS (After 11 of 12 Events): 1. #4 Don Thomson Jr. (Chevrolet / 1794) 2. #02 Kerry Micks (Ford / 1728) 3. #76 Al Turner (Intrepid / 1708) 4. #17 DJ Kennington (Intrepid / 1613) 5. #35 Kevin Dowler (Ford / 1600) 6. #88 Dave Jacombs (Ford / 1596) 7. #60 Ron Beauchamp Jr. (Intrepid / 1556) 8. #64 Mark Dilley (Ford / 1554) 9. #99 Pete Vanderwyst (Pontiac / 1553) 10. #33 Neil Fair (Chevrolet / 1548) 11. #14 John Fitzpatrick (Chevrolet / 1526) 12. #31 Kelly Williams (Pontiac / 1522) 13. #8 Teri MacDonald-Cadieux (Chevrolet / 1490) 14. #9 Robbie Thompson (Intrepid / 1486) 15. #04 Andy Farr (Intrepid / 1468) 16. #1 Peter Gibbons (Chevrolet / 1464) 17. #98 David Whitlock (Ford / 1443) 18. #3 Chris Fowler (Chevrolet / 1362) 19. #22 Scott Steckly (Chevrolet / 1073) 20. #19 Brad Graham (Chevrolet / 924) 20. #80 Donald Theetge (Chevrolet / 924) 22. #57 Joe Goncalves (Chevrolet / 858) 23. #25 Jim Lapcevich (Chevrolet / 680) 24. #00 Bill Innes (Ford / 640) 25. #23 Jeff Lapcevich (Chevrolet / 572).